MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - Wiley College was the setting for the film The Great Debaters, and now one of its stars wants to bring Hollywood back to East Texas by starting a film and drama school at the college.
"The hope is that we cover all aspects of filmmaking, from sound, lighting, and cinematography, to just studying film specifically with the cultural component and the history of film," Nate Parker said.
Nate Parker played Henry Lowe in The Great Debaters. He has stayed connected with Wiley College since filming that movie, even using their a capella choir for the soundtrack of his film The Birth of a Nation. He hopes this new school will help empower young people here in East Texas, across the county, and even around the world.
"You control the moving picture, you control the masses. So really getting them rallied around the idea of re-claiming the narrative of America, specifically through the eyes of people of color," Parker said.
The first classes will be held in the fall, but before that they are having a nine day summer institute as a pilot program for the school. About 30 high school and college students will be selected. Ten current seniors at Wiley College have already been selected to be on staff for the institute this summer.
Sydney Stanberry and Kenneth Crawford are two of the current seniors chosen to work with Parker this summer.
"It's an honor to be chosen. Just to see my campus just evolve, really just grow, to have somebody like Nate Parker come and love it the way that I love it," Stanberry said.
"I'm very excited that someone with this magnitude of power gets to come here and I get to work with him," Crawford added.
Parker hopes that this school can do more than just training students, but become a pathway for the film industry in East Texas.
"If I can create a pipeline toward filmmaking physically through developing the college, having filmmakers be nurtured and cultivated here, and then having somewhere for them to go with respect for them actually being able to engage in filmmaking here in East Texas, then it kind of serves multiple purposes," he said.
Parker does plan to be actively involved in the school. Applications for that summer institute will be available in the coming week.